Chapter 51.1: The Black Lions (4)

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They had a late lunch in one of the floating stations at a restaurant with a great view. 

Although the food was pretty good, Eugene was left feeling a bit dissatisfied by the disappointing serving sizes of the meat.
His meals back at the Red Tower of Magic were satisfying, since they had gotten used to him demanding large chunks of meat for his meals over the last few months, but a restaurant like this that prided itself on its atmosphere wouldn’t serve the hunks of roasted meat that Eugene really desired.

“Now that your body’s all grown up, do you really need to keep eating so barbarically?” Ciel asked.

“I could still be growing,” Eugene argued.

“What will you do if you come to resemble Gargith by eating like that? I’d really hate it if you grew that large.”

“I’d hate that as well.
Who would even want that?”

While making an unpleasant expression, Eugene wiped his lips with a napkin.
As the meat he had been served only came out in small portions due to the restaurant’s rules on plating, a small mountain of empty dishes had piled up on Eugene’s side of the table.

On the other side of the table, the area in front of Ciel was clear.
Eugene clicked his tongue when he saw she had only selected vegetables, apart from her disliked bell peppers and carrots.

Eugene lectured her, “If you’re that picky, of course, you won’t grow up.”

“We can't be too sure about you, but I’m already fully grown,” Ciel refuted.

“As long as you stop being so picky, I think you can grow a little more,” advised Eugene.

“It wouldn’t be attractive for me to grow up too tall,” Ciel said, getting up from her seat.

Eugene glanced down at Ciel’s slender forearms and shook his head in disapproval, “Although it’s always good to train your mana, physical workouts are equally as important.
If you run out of mana in the middle of a fight, you’ll be forced to rely solely on your body to—”

Ciel interrupted him, “It might be because you were hanging out with Gargith a while ago, but even the way you talk is starting to resemble him.”

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“Take that back,” Eugene demanded.

As Eugene expressed his instinctive disgust, Ciel stuck her tongue out and laughed.

“So I heard something from father,” Ciel changed the subject.
“Did you really use 300 million sals just to purchase giant testicles as a favor for Gargith?”

“So what?” Eugene asked defensively.

“Did you really eat them together with him? I asked Hazard about it, but apparently, it’s not just the giants; all beast testicles have a nourishing effect on the body.
But no matter how healthy it is, how could you eat something like that?” Ciel asked with a mix of curiosity and disgust.

“I didn’t eat any,” Eugene insisted. 

“Really? Then Sir Gerhard will be happy.”

“Why would my father be happy?”

“He was pouting because you kept such a good thing all to yourself.”

‘Father, please,’ Eugene groaned internally. 

Thankfully, Ciel changed the subject, “It’s been over three months since you’ve arrived in Aroth.
So what have you been doing?”

“Reading books, learning magic,” Eugene explained simply.

“Apart from such obvious things,” Ciel dismissed.
“Haven’t you had any new and exciting experiences?”

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Eugene argued, “Learning magic is a new and exciting experience.”

“What about Akron?” she asked.

Though she had come here to buy Ancilla’s present, once they were eating, Ciel decided to go for a walk around the outskirts of the floating station instead of heading down to the streets for shopping.
As she asked her question, Ciel pointed to the lake that could be seen in the distance and at Abram, the royal palace.

She continued, “After all, not just anyone is allowed to go to a place like that.
Do you know how happy father and Sir Gerhard were when they heard the news about you being granted an entrance pass to Akron?”

“What about Lady Ancilla?” Eugene asked.

“On the surface, my mother also acted like she was happy.
But on the inside, she was feeling more complicated.”

“What’s there to feel complicated about? After all, I can’t become the Patriarch anyway.”

“That’s just it,” Ciel turned to look at Eugene with a grin.
“You might not be able to become the Patriarch, but you’re more suited to becoming the Patriarch than any of us siblings.” 

“That’s just because I’m so talented,” Eugene retorted shamelessly.

“Being too talented is also a flaw.
Wouldn't it be better for you to show something of a weak point somewhere?” Ciel suggested.

“I’ll just say this outright because I’m having difficulty understanding you, but Ciel, did you come all the way here just to warn me right now?” Eugene said with a similar smile to Ciel’s.

This smile caused Ciel’s eyes to waver slightly.
Over the four years that they had lived together, she had seen Eugene smiling more than a few times.

But now, he had a different look in his eyes from those other times.
Eugene was staring right at her as if he could see right through her.
His eyes made Ciel recall when she had first met Eugene four years ago — back when he had accepted the challenge to a duel.
Eugene had glared at Cyan with eyes just like that.

“…A warning, as if,” Ciel lightly shrugged the accusation off and shook her head.
“It’s just… I’m also feeling a little unsettled due to the recent events.
Cyan has always wanted to become the Patriarch.
So this situation has turned out to be very good for my brother.
Because of your actions, Eward and Lady Tanis were forced to leave the main estate.”

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“If so, then they should thank me,” Eugene prompted sarcastically.

“Mother should be feeling grateful to you.
But my brother… I’m afraid that he’ll just resent this,” Ciel revealed.

Eugene confessed, “That’s why I’m quite fond of Cyan.
His strong self-esteem actually reminds me of someone.”

“Who?” Ciel asked curiously.

“Just some guy whose self-esteem seemed overinflated compared to his actual abilities,” Eugene muttered as he walked past Ciel. “I know what you’re thinking.
Even though you’re always nagging your brother, you really do love him, and even though you resent Lady Ancilla, you’re still worried about her.”

“…,” Ciel remained silent.

Eugene reassured her, “I have no intention of becoming the Patriarch.
I don’t want to be the Patriarch; even if someone told me to, I wouldn’t do it.
For the rest of my life, I won’t take any actions to become the Patriarch.”

“Don’t just say something like that so easily,” Ciel complained.

“Then what do you think?” Eugene turned to Ciel and asked.
“What would you do if I someday changed my mind and said that I wanted to be the Patriarch?”

“…Cyan would probably accept it,” Ciel admitted hesitantly.

“And you?” Eugene asked.

Ciel avoided the question, “My father… would also accept you.
Uncle Gion and the rest of the main family members would do so as well.
If you said that you were determined to do it, they would have no choice but to accept you.
Because the gap between you and Cyan is just too great.”

Eugene repeated, “I asked you, what would you do?”

“…I would also accept it,” Ciel mumbled through pursed lips.
“…Though I wouldn't really feel comfortable with it.
Because my mother would absolutely never accept you.”

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“See that,” Eugene laughed as he leaned his back against a railing.
“If I say that I will be the next Patriarch, someone will end up being upset.
That’s unavoidable.
Because no matter how talented I am, I’m not an heir of the direct line.”

“…Doesn’t that mean you’re giving up for the sake of my mother?”

“There are several reasons why I’ve given up on it.
Even if you twins and the knights serving the main family accept me as the next Patriarch, the Council of Elders won’t accept me.
Wouldn’t that be the first and most difficult challenge I’d face?”

Ciel couldn’t find anything to say to refute him, “….”

Eugene continued, “That alone would be annoying enough, but I truly don’t want to become the Patriarch.
Why would I even want to? Becoming the next Patriarch of the Lionheart’s direct line, what’s so amazing about doing that?”

“…Aren’t there a lot of amazing perks?”

“Even if I don’t become the Patriarch, I have the confidence that I’ll always receive the best kind of treatment no matter where I go.”

“You really are an annoying bastard.”

“But did I say anything untrue? Let’s just look at the facts,” with a snicker, Eugene raised a finger in front of Ciel.
“Firstly, I’m from a collateral bloodline.
But at the age of thirteen, I was the first in the history of the Lionheart clan to defeat members of the main family in the Bloodline Continuation Ceremony.
In addition, I received the unprecedented reward of being adopted into the main family, and I was even granted ownership of the Storm Sword Wynnyd. 

“At that age, I could initiate my mana on my first try, and I also inherited the White Flame Formula.
And now? My progress in the White Flame Formula is higher than Cyan’s, who first started practicing the formula several years before me.
Even though there are people in the history of the Lionheart clan who could reach the Third Star before becoming adults, none of them managed to reach the Third Star when they were only seventeen like I did.”

Ciel warned him, “You really are starting to annoy me.”

“And that’s not all.
After only learning magic through self-study for a month, I was able to cast my first spell, and now that three months have passed, I’ve received permission to enter the Royal Library, Akron.
When I’m this talented, do I really need to turn my eye to the seat of the Patriarch?”

“Fine.
You win.
You really are so talented, you annoying bastard.”

Having listened to each point one by one, Ciel couldn’t help but think that Eugene really was a monster.
As she looked at Eugene’s slyly grinning gaze, Ciel shook her head in frustration.

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